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Old 02-18-2013, 10:04 PM   #1
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CA - Getting a Class B Non-Commercial Lic

Since there's been lots of confusion, I thought I'd provide some information about recent experience getting a Non-Commercial Class B license for CA.

Needed? Yes - anything OVER 40' and up to 45' REQUIRES it for a CA driver. BUT DMV is very confused by it. No you aren't getting one for a fire truck! No, you don't want a commercial license. Yes, it's for a "housecar" over 40'. No, you don't want an endorsement for air brakes (even if your coach has them!).

Steps - Written test gets you a learner's permit (be sure to study both the RV guide as well as the regular commercial guide. It will help!)

Behind the wheel test
First, be prepared to wait. You may have a 2pm appointment....the instructor won't be there until 2:45. Expect it. The driving test will take at least an hour. DON'T BE IN A HURRY!
- BE SURE your vehicle will pass the safety test, or the won't go further! That includes CURRENT license/registration and insurance!
- BE SURE your certified hold of a commercial or non-commercial class B license accompanies you all the way to the check in!
- Safety Check - They will NOT force you go through the heavy duty aspects that a Commercial license requires. They'll just check all your light functions - turn, brake, hazards, etc. (but they are good to know!).
- Air Brake Test - if you coach has it, they will walk you through it (and it's good to know the steps to make sure it's functioning properly.)
- Skills Test - they did only two items. Backing straight for 100' (yes, I could use camera to make sure I stopped within 2' of the line), and "Alley parking" (think backing into a camp spot from the street). Start out perpendicular to where you're going to end up...back up and then turn left into driver's side area where you have to end up between 4 cones, stopping in the designated area. If you pass this part, you never have to do it again (even if you fail the "on the road part")
- On the road test -
1) While they will give you instructions (i.e. turn left at next street or intersection), YOU should drive in the best lane you are comfortable with. (i.e. if your in the curb lane and suddenly it's tight with cars parked at the curb, don't ask but signal and go to the #1 lane using the proper methods). If you feel your coach is going to get hit/brushed by low trees ~ don't ask, just signal and move!
2) RR crossings - no, you won't have to turn on flashers, or stop , BUT they are very interested in seeing that you are looking both ways and absolutely not going forward until you can clear the tracks completely without blocking the tracks.
3) Underpasses - Some will ask you what the clearance was under that last bridge, others will not. Be prepared anyway (you'd really want to know, for your own $$$)
4) Obey all signs! The obvious - speed limit, school crossing, etc. And the not so obvious - No Compression Brake Zone, Weight limit 5 tons ahead, etc.
5) Turning at signals - DON'T do it without a green light for the test! Even if no one is coming for miles.
6) Count on the unexpected! During my test A) A mother pushing a stroller suddenly stepped off the curb into the crosswalk during my left hand turn with an arrow, B) A pedestrian literally leaped from behind a car to jump into a cross walk...took three steps then turned back around, C) Going down a tight commercial street a car suddenly backed into the road in front of us...and sat blocking the lane...for at least 30 seconds, I seriously began thinking I was driving in a video game.

The behind the wheel test is all over if...
- You hit/rub a curb while turning
- Disobey a sign of any sort
- Disregard an instructor's question
- And something about not understanding English
(But if you passed the skills test, you'll only have to repeat this part!)

Oh, and there's also inconsistency on retaking the behind the wheel. Your first test is "included" but every subsequent test is supposed to cost $6...but not always collected. You get three tries...then have to wait 6 months before trying again (thank God I got it on my second try, and I would have had it on my first if I wasn't waiting for her literal instructions! ).

Lastly, I HIGHLY recommend taking a skills lesson. It will save you big $$$. For $200 for the day (coach not included, rented it for $399 + fuel), I got the workout of my life and 1:1 instruction. Yes, I can parallel park it (easily!), Alley parking was so much easier after training, and some really great tips about on the road I hadn't considered at all. Oh, and the instructor went with me to take the test, included in the price! Not only will I be less likely to "crunch the coach", but my insurance will be less for taking a certified class (score!). The training was done near Disneyland and I took my test in Fullerton.

Feel free to ask any questions!

Mark
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Old 02-19-2013, 02:56 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSJC View Post
Since there's been lots of confusion, I thought I'd provide some information about recent experience getting a Non-Commercial Class B license for CA.

Needed? Yes - anything OVER 40' and up to 45' REQUIRES it for a CA driver. BUT DMV is very confused by it. No you aren't getting one for a fire truck! No, you don't want a commercial license. Yes, it's for a "housecar" over 40'. No, you don't want an endorsement for air brakes (even if your coach has them!).

Steps - Written test gets you a learner's permit (be sure to study both the RV guide as well as the regular commercial guide. It will help!)

Behind the wheel test
First, be prepared to wait. You may have a 2pm appointment....the instructor won't be there until 2:45. Expect it. The driving test will take at least an hour. DON'T BE IN A HURRY!
- BE SURE your vehicle will pass the safety test, or the won't go further! That includes CURRENT license/registration and insurance!
- BE SURE your certified hold of a commercial or non-commercial class B license accompanies you all the way to the check in!
- Safety Check - They will NOT force you go through the heavy duty aspects that a Commercial license requires. They'll just check all your light functions - turn, brake, hazards, etc. (but they are good to know!).
- Air Brake Test - if you coach has it, they will walk you through it (and it's good to know the steps to make sure it's functioning properly.)
- Skills Test - they did only two items. Backing straight for 100' (yes, I could use camera to make sure I stopped within 2' of the line), and "Alley parking" (think backing into a camp spot from the street). Start out perpendicular to where you're going to end up...back up and then turn left into driver's side area where you have to end up between 4 cones, stopping in the designated area. If you pass this part, you never have to do it again (even if you fail the "on the road part")
- On the road test -
1) While they will give you instructions (i.e. turn left at next street or intersection), YOU should drive in the best lane you are comfortable with. (i.e. if your in the curb lane and suddenly it's tight with cars parked at the curb, don't ask but signal and go to the #1 lane using the proper methods). If you feel your coach is going to get hit/brushed by low trees ~ don't ask, just signal and move!
2) RR crossings - no, you won't have to turn on flashers, or stop , BUT they are very interested in seeing that you are looking both ways and absolutely not going forward until you can clear the tracks completely without blocking the tracks.
3) Underpasses - Some will ask you what the clearance was under that last bridge, others will not. Be prepared anyway (you'd really want to know, for your own $$$)
4) Obey all signs! The obvious - speed limit, school crossing, etc. And the not so obvious - No Compression Brake Zone, Weight limit 5 tons ahead, etc.
5) Turning at signals - DON'T do it without a green light for the test! Even if no one is coming for miles.
6) Count on the unexpected! During my test A) A mother pushing a stroller suddenly stepped off the curb into the crosswalk during my left hand turn with an arrow, B) A pedestrian literally leaped from behind a car to jump into a cross walk...took three steps then turned back around, C) Going down a tight commercial street a car suddenly backed into the road in front of us...and sat blocking the lane...for at least 30 seconds, I seriously began thinking I was driving in a video game.

The behind the wheel test is all over if...
- You hit/rub a curb while turning
- Disobey a sign of any sort
- Disregard an instructor's question
- And something about not understanding English
(But if you passed the skills test, you'll only have to repeat this part!)

Oh, and there's also inconsistency on retaking the behind the wheel. Your first test is "included" but every subsequent test is supposed to cost $6...but not always collected. You get three tries...then have to wait 6 months before trying again (thank God I got it on my second try, and I would have had it on my first if I wasn't waiting for her literal instructions! ).

Lastly, I HIGHLY recommend taking a skills lesson. It will save you big $$$. For $200 for the day (coach not included, rented it for $399 + fuel), I got the workout of my life and 1:1 instruction. Yes, I can parallel park it (easily!), Alley parking was so much easier after training, and some really great tips about on the road I hadn't considered at all. Oh, and the instructor went with me to take the test, included in the price! Not only will I be less likely to "crunch the coach", but my insurance will be less for taking a certified class (score!). The training was done near Disneyland and I took my test in Fullerton.

Feel free to ask any questions!

Mark
Nice that you live in a progressive state. As a visitor I get to come and drive on my car lcense while in your state. I do think there should be a federal law requiring a understanding of air brakes before anyone drives a rig with them. So long as I do not drive a rig for hire my licene covers everything but a three wheeled motorcycle. Your state law says all that I need is a valid license a valid registration and valid insurance. Glad your state is nice to visitors.
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:13 PM   #3
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We have so many (from so many states and countries) it would be stupid not to! We also have the most complex and far reaching freeway system anywhere IMO.

Totally agree that if your coach is big enough to have air brakes, it should require a special license regardless of where you're from (we don't want to kill any tourists!)

Mark
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Old 02-19-2013, 07:19 PM   #4
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RV.Net Open Roads Forum: California Drivers License - What Class License Needed


I'll second that the DMV is very confused about RV drivers and Class B 'Non Commercial' license needs. I also feel the California Highway Patrol is also 'unclear' of the regulations.

I pay State of California DMV registration based upon a '40 Ft Coach Model' and talking with the DMV they stated 'If it is a 40' model, then it does not require a Class B Non Commercial license.'.... As I could not get this in writing from anyone, and had different answers from talks with different Highway Patrol members - I took the test to be safe. We measure at 'over 40' by 8". (LOL! asking the Highway patrol 'How do you measure?' I got three different answers from over 6 sources: 1) Bumper to Bumper, (I think the correct answer) 2) Furthest point forward, to furthest point backwards (Mirrors to Ladder), 3) From Center Front Wheel to Rear Drive Wheel (got a blank stare when I asked what about Tag's)... Though I did have three who answered they would look at the 'model' and factor that if it stated "40 Feet".

I've included another thread from another board, where I posted my Driver License experience. From doing a Turck Drivers Written Test, on top of the normal Drivers Test (I don't feel this was correct). To 'no rear view camera allowed' in the backing up tests, etc.

My DW will not get this drivers license, and we will use the 'It's a 40 foot model' if every she is pulled over while driving.

IMO, unless you are running along at over 55 with at Toad - most Highway Patrol members are not likely to target an RV'er.

My best to you all, and to the OP "Two thumbs up!" for working your way thru the process!

Smitty
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Old 02-20-2013, 07:57 PM   #5
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Smitty,

It was fun reading your thread ~ yes, the test is certainly "colored" by the individual administering it!

There was a comment on the other log about getting just a regular commercial license (which I had pondered), but the restrictions are much, much higher.

But it was really a great learning experience - especially for understanding the systems and differences between driving a little sub-compact and a 60k "house".

I highly encourage everyone to invest in a RV driver training course...it will make for much more "on the road" enjoyment.

Mark
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Old 02-20-2013, 11:40 PM   #6
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I love California...! I used to live there before all of the "Progressives" took over. Then the taxes, smog, crowded freeways and thousands of laws ran me out. But I still love to come visiting. I just fill up my tank before I cross the state line and I make sure that my seat belt's fastened and my license is current. What a state....!
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Old 02-21-2013, 06:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSJC View Post
There was a comment on the other log about getting just a regular commercial license (which I had pondered), but the restrictions are much, much higher.
Not to mention expensive! I have a Non-Commercial Class A license, from when we hauled a large fifth wheel. many years ago I went to get my M1 endorsement and got a shock: each endorsement on a Class A license costs the holder $65 - I had to convince them that my licencse was non-commercial and the endorsement should not cost that much. The supervisor agreed, but if you've got a Class A or B and go for, say, air brake endorsement, you pay $65 more!
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Old 02-22-2013, 04:14 PM   #8
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I spent 2.5 hours at the CA DMV trying to get my non-commercial class B permit. They were totally lost. One of the workers said " you will need a class A commercial to pull doubles behind your motorhome". I looked at her and said "WHAT" and she just walked away. Another worker said they needed the exact weight, I told him no you don't and he walked away. They could not get their computer to take the entry, so they hand wrote on my permit what it was for. I am just wondering how many Californians with motorhomes over 40' just don't get the license they need. I'm not as much worried about a ticket, as I am about my insurance company trying to deny a claim because I did not have the right license. It took DMV 20 minutes to find the correct test and another 15 minutes to find the score key. They said they will fix it when I come back for the drive test.
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:41 PM   #9
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They said they will fix it when I come back for the drive test.
FYI - there are VERY few locations that you can take the driving test at! All of them can provide the written test (if they can figure out how to test you!).

Totally agree that DMV is lost in making sure all personnel know and understand the program (are our numbers that few???).

Mark
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Old 02-22-2013, 06:52 PM   #10
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I had a B CDL real thing for 28 years ( Fire safety instructor to teach emergency veh driving) When I retired I did not pay for it on renewal since I was retired and did not intend to use it ever again. Moved to texas Oh yea over 26,000 lbs, over 40' air brakes. Yep you need non com cdl. I just went and re took real cdl test but I still had current emg driver instructor cdl card.

Examiner laughed and said lets go to donut shop and have coffee I did miss two questions on computer air brake test. She did make me back up 50 ft and go arround a block and park in coffee shop.
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Old 02-25-2013, 01:41 AM   #11
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Great Info - Can I get the name and contact info of the driving school that you used, the DW and i would like to take their course. Thank You
Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkofSJC View Post
Since there's been lots of confusion, I thought I'd provide some information about recent experience getting a Non-Commercial Class B license for CA.

Needed? Yes - anything OVER 40' and up to 45' REQUIRES it for a CA driver. BUT DMV is very confused by it. No you aren't getting one for a fire truck! No, you don't want a commercial license. Yes, it's for a "housecar" over 40'. No, you don't want an endorsement for air brakes (even if your coach has them!).

Steps - Written test gets you a learner's permit (be sure to study both the RV guide as well as the regular commercial guide. It will help!)

Behind the wheel test
First, be prepared to wait. You may have a 2pm appointment....the instructor won't be there until 2:45. Expect it. The driving test will take at least an hour. DON'T BE IN A HURRY!
- BE SURE your vehicle will pass the safety test, or the won't go further! That includes CURRENT license/registration and insurance!
- BE SURE your certified hold of a commercial or non-commercial class B license accompanies you all the way to the check in!
- Safety Check - They will NOT force you go through the heavy duty aspects that a Commercial license requires. They'll just check all your light functions - turn, brake, hazards, etc. (but they are good to know!).
- Air Brake Test - if you coach has it, they will walk you through it (and it's good to know the steps to make sure it's functioning properly.)
- Skills Test - they did only two items. Backing straight for 100' (yes, I could use camera to make sure I stopped within 2' of the line), and "Alley parking" (think backing into a camp spot from the street). Start out perpendicular to where you're going to end up...back up and then turn left into driver's side area where you have to end up between 4 cones, stopping in the designated area. If you pass this part, you never have to do it again (even if you fail the "on the road part")
- On the road test -
1) While they will give you instructions (i.e. turn left at next street or intersection), YOU should drive in the best lane you are comfortable with. (i.e. if your in the curb lane and suddenly it's tight with cars parked at the curb, don't ask but signal and go to the #1 lane using the proper methods). If you feel your coach is going to get hit/brushed by low trees ~ don't ask, just signal and move!
2) RR crossings - no, you won't have to turn on flashers, or stop , BUT they are very interested in seeing that you are looking both ways and absolutely not going forward until you can clear the tracks completely without blocking the tracks.
3) Underpasses - Some will ask you what the clearance was under that last bridge, others will not. Be prepared anyway (you'd really want to know, for your own $$$)
4) Obey all signs! The obvious - speed limit, school crossing, etc. And the not so obvious - No Compression Brake Zone, Weight limit 5 tons ahead, etc.
5) Turning at signals - DON'T do it without a green light for the test! Even if no one is coming for miles.
6) Count on the unexpected! During my test A) A mother pushing a stroller suddenly stepped off the curb into the crosswalk during my left hand turn with an arrow, B) A pedestrian literally leaped from behind a car to jump into a cross walk...took three steps then turned back around, C) Going down a tight commercial street a car suddenly backed into the road in front of us...and sat blocking the lane...for at least 30 seconds, I seriously began thinking I was driving in a video game.

The behind the wheel test is all over if...
- You hit/rub a curb while turning
- Disobey a sign of any sort
- Disregard an instructor's question
- And something about not understanding English
(But if you passed the skills test, you'll only have to repeat this part!)

Oh, and there's also inconsistency on retaking the behind the wheel. Your first test is "included" but every subsequent test is supposed to cost $6...but not always collected. You get three tries...then have to wait 6 months before trying again (thank God I got it on my second try, and I would have had it on my first if I wasn't waiting for her literal instructions! ).

Lastly, I HIGHLY recommend taking a skills lesson. It will save you big $$$. For $200 for the day (coach not included, rented it for $399 + fuel), I got the workout of my life and 1:1 instruction. Yes, I can parallel park it (easily!), Alley parking was so much easier after training, and some really great tips about on the road I hadn't considered at all. Oh, and the instructor went with me to take the test, included in the price! Not only will I be less likely to "crunch the coach", but my insurance will be less for taking a certified class (score!). The training was done near Disneyland and I took my test in Fullerton.

Feel free to ask any questions!

Mark
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Old 02-25-2013, 04:06 AM   #12
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CA Lisc

May I ask, without trying to bash the great state of California and it's......hmmm....forward leaning laws why this law was passed? When the law was passed what was the perceived problem and how was this requirement meant to remedy it? It appears to me his law will be violated more than the 55 mph speed limit if the license is so difficult to obtain. Is this endorsement harder to get than a commercial bus license or even tour coach license? Is this license endorsement purely a revenue measure or is it a misguided method to prevent RV ownership and drive a Prius?
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Old 02-25-2013, 02:31 PM   #13
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May I ask, without trying to bash the great state of California and it's......hmmm....forward leaning laws why this law was passed? When the law was passed what was the perceived problem and how was this requirement meant to remedy it? It appears to me his law will be violated more than the 55 mph speed limit if the license is so difficult to obtain. Is this endorsement harder to get than a commercial bus license or even tour coach license? Is this license endorsement purely a revenue measure or is it a misguided method to prevent RV ownership and drive a Prius?
It was probably in response to thousands of complaints such as "Why can some old geezer who has never driven anything bigger than a Honda go out and buy a 40 foot monster RV and drive away - they need proper training"

Try and tell us you've NEVER heard that complaint!

So the state attempts to remedy that by requiring a special license, that may require special training, and now you get the complaint "Why do I need a special license? I've been driving for 50 years without an accident!"
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Old 02-25-2013, 03:46 PM   #14
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Great Info - Can I get the name and contact info of the driving school that you used, the DW and i would like to take their course. Thank You
Call Robert Johnson - cell 949-310-7181 (tell them Mark sent you). I think the company name is MV Transit - they handle all of Disney's transportation needs, both inside the park (parking lot trams) and the zillion of shuttle buses used.

I guarantee you'll learn a lot ~ both about steering your coach and CA laws.

Mark
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